When should parents start talking with their sons about what it means to be a God-honoring husband and father? Our boy is still pretty young – not even in his teens yet – but we want to be sure to lay a strong foundation before it's too late. Should we wait until after puberty? Or would it be better to hold off even longer – perhaps until he's in his twenties?
We're glad you brought this up. It's a subject that deserves careful consideration for a number of reasons. Among these, perhaps the most significant is a marked tendency for couples to marry later in life than was common in the past. As author Glenn T. Stanton points out in his book Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, the age of first marriage in the United States is now just under thirty years of age for both men and women (women are typically just a bit younger than men on the wedding day). This means that young adults are entering into marriage with a stronger sense of individualism and personal independence than did their parents and grandparents. Most of them have lived on their own for several years before coming together in matrimony, and as a result they're more set in their ways. They've had time to establish life patterns of their own: how they manage finances, careers, and free time. The more "set" two lives have become – the more time they've had to "harden" into their own personal routines – the more difficult it's going to be for them to merge and meld in marriage.
Why mention this? Because from a certain perspective it only underscores the need to start preparing our boys to take on the responsibilities and joys of marriage and family life as early as possible. Good husbands and fathers don't just happen; we have to create them. And we create them, at least in part, by teaching them beforehand that good marriages and strong families are built on a foundation of love, and that love means dying to self and learning to make sacrifices for others.
Such instruction takes on an appearance of even greater urgency when we remember that, despite the rising age of brides and grooms, marriage is still likely to become the central relationship of adult life for the overwhelming majority of men and women. All the statistics indicate that our children want to succeed at and find happiness in marriage. As parents, of course, you want the same thing for your son. Why, then, should it seem strange to start talking about what it means to be a good husband and father now – before he's had a chance to form too many self-centered, potentially relationship-damaging habits of his own? A good man anticipates what lies ahead on the journey and prepares for it. We'd encourage you to help your son get moving in that direction as soon as you can.
If you'd like to talk about these ideas at greater length, feel free to call Focus on the Family's Counseling department.
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